Behind the Scenes: SFC’s 11th Annual Farm to Plate
Ronda Rutledge has something everyone wants: a job she she is truly passionate about. She is the Executive Director at the Sustainable Food Center (SFC). I sat down and had coffee with her at Bennu Coffee (they only serve fair-trade coffee and locally sourced food). She’s one of those people that you just immediately love – she’s warm and friendly with a very relaxed manner. She’s the kind of person you just want to hug (even if you aren’t a hugger).
Ronda’s passion for farming is in her DNA. She comes from a long line of farmers dating back to the Cherokees in the Carolinas. Her grandfather 5 generations back was part of the Cherokee Nation that signed the treaty with the federal government that led to the removal of the Trail of Tears (the forced relocation of Native Americans out of their ancestral homelands). When her family was forced to move west, they relocated to Oklahoma, now the seat of the Cherokee Nation. The chief was very angry that the treaty was signed; so, all involved were put on a hit list. To protect his family, her grandfather (5 generations ago) moved to Texas.
They settled in east Texas, but farming in Texas is very different than farming in the Carolinas. Her family had to learn new ways to grow their food. The idea of food sovereignty has been passed down through the generations and is engrained in the way Ronda thinks. “Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.” A major component of that is sustainability and making sure future generations have this same right.
Check out this video from National Geographic about why sustainable food systems matter:
SFC serves the Austin community in 4 ways:
- The Grow Local program serves to educate the community. They also provide resources and have has a hand in the majority of the community gardens around town.
- The Farm Direct program promotes access to fresh, healthy food via a network of farmer’s markets.
- The Happy Kitchen offers community cooking and nutrition education classes. (Note to food lovers: you can have private events here!)
- Farmers Markets – they operate one downtown on Guadalupe and another one at the Tony Burger Center in Sunset Valley. Both are on on Saturdays from 9am – 1pm. I’ve gone to both, and always enjoy it and think “I should do this more often”). I usually eat breakfast while I’m there, bring home lunch for my family, and get fresh fruits and vegetables for the week.
I highly encourage you to take a tour of their 4-star rated green energy office and community space. They even serve you lunch, but be sure to RSVP.
I love non-profits that couple fundraising with amazing events, and the annual Farm to Plate event is definitely at the top of this list. “This sip-and-stroll event features bites from the best Austin chefs who are dedicated to sourcing local and sustainable food from our area farmers. Farm to Plate also features local artisan cocktails, local wines and beers, live music, and a silent auction on the beautiful indoor/outdoor grounds of Barr Mansion.” You must check out the list of amazing chefs that will be serving during the event (Sway, Fixe, Uchi, Wu Chow and many other amazing chefs will be there). It’s a great place to check out all of the hot spots in town!
The event is Wednesday, May 9 at Barr Mansion. General admission tickets are $300 and VIP tickets are $500.